Design Award Entries

NW Arkansas Artist Housing and Residency Program

Artspace is a 50 unit apartment development to support the artist community at risk of being displaced by the high cost housing in Northwest Arkansas. The program includes a 50 residential units, 12 live-work spaces, maker spaces, and a public gallery for the use of resident artists. The north facing units have a panoramic view of the nearby outdoor performance venue operated by the Crystal Bridges Momentary Museum.

Project Statement

In a setting of unlikely hybrids and mashups, Artspace Housing is yet another: it wraps a large parking structure built to serve the Momentary, providing a finished façade in the manner of a Texas Donut. It also acts as a performative acoustical “rear wall” to the outdoor music venue; like the box seats in an opera hall, its faceted façade serves to reflect sound back to the open audience area without creating acoustic hot spots.

Urban design guidelines from the city limited material selection and mandated the use of masonry. This is implemented as a brick pedestal at the base, with light frame construction above clad in rectangular painted metal siding. The apartments are spacious one-bedroom units, large enough to allow for open workspace for the artist residents. The proximity to the garage introduced code complications: in addition to required fire separation, the housing is engineered as a freestanding building with no structural connection to the pre cast garage.

The east-facing and north-facing wings of the housing join at an exterior stair and landing clad in perforated metal. This central circulation element serves to orient visitors to the housing and reconciles the floor height variation between the parking structure and the housing.

The twelve separate live-work units are raised over a double-height work flexible space, which provides workspace, galleries, and maker spaces serving the public and augmenting the facilities of the nearby contemporary art center.

AIA Arkansas